ERAFP’s Desfosses may be axed as CEO

ESG champion could pursue sustainability mission in the private sector, he tells RI

Philippe Desfossés has confirmed that he is slated to be replaced as CEO at French pension giant ERAFP, after spending more than a decade positioning the scheme as a leader in sustainable investment globally.

Reports have circulated in the French media in recent days that Desfossés might be on his way out of the c.$28bn public service additional pension scheme, which defines itself as a 100% SRI investor, despite his statement to the Government last December saying he would like to continue his assignment.

“The main priority for me is to continue with the work I have been doing at ERAFP on sustainability” – Desfossés

Desfossés confirmed today to RI that his departure had been announced to the trustees by ERAFP Board President M. Dominique Lamiot earlier this summer at a board meeting, and that – although a final decision is yet to be made – he expects to leave “by the end of the year”.

The decision is not Desfossés’. ERAFP is supervised by four French government departments including the Ministries of Economy, Budget, Social Affairs and the Home Office, which between them make decisions about its management.It is unclear why the change has been proposed. Desfossés declined to comment, but RI understands that neither the Prime Minister, Edouard Philippe, nor President Macron’s cabinet office have been involved in the proposal. It’s possible that it is linked to potential changes to the French pension system, which may see consolidation to create a single national scheme.

It is also possible that Desfossés will be placed elsewhere in France’s public sector as part of the move, but, he told RI: “There are many ways to serve your country and a cause that goes beyond it.

“The main priority for me is to continue with the work I have been doing at ERAFP on sustainability, climate change and the financing of the transition [to a low-carbon economy]. That might mean working for an asset manager or private sector body.”

His removal from post, if it goes ahead, will send ripples through the SRI community in France, especially as it comes just weeks after Nicolas Hulot’s shock resignation as Ecology Minister. Hulot said his decision was triggered by growing frustration about the lack of meaningful progress being made around climate change in the country, despite its reputation as a leader on the topic on the global stage – characterised by the development of the seminal climate law Article 173.

Additional reporting by Hugh Wheelan.